Baker University administrators stand by decisions, cuts

University President Pat Long said she's been smiling a lot more these days.
Those smiles a due to a budget that is in much better shape compared to a year ago at this time.

"It looks like we're on target to end with no deficit this year," Long said. "Now that doesn't mean we don't have long and short-term debt, but we have trimmed the budget so that we're going to end in the black, which is a wonderful thing for us."

A balanced budget is expected at the end of this fiscal year. Budget Director Darla Prather said a variety of items are looked at to determine where the university's budget will be come June 30.

"We do projections on expected revenue for the rest of the year. We also look at the revenue that we've brought in so far and how that translates into the rest of the year and we go through and see where we've had adjustments in our expenses," Prather said.

"So, we're putting forward our best estimate based on the changes that we've made."

While Baker still faces long and short-term debt, Chief Operating Officer Susan Lindahl said Baker has reduced its long-term debt by more than $1 million and its short-term debt by more than $2 million.

"A year ago, we were not in the good position that we're in this year," Lindahl said. "This year we're definitely in a positive budget position, and that's a big relief."

Although a sigh of relief is now being let out by university administrators, getting to where the budget stands now was no easy task as administrators made the decision to eliminate and reduce positions and programs.

"I think the most difficult thing was saying goodbye, and the elimination of positions of individuals that we know," Lindahl said. "Realizing where we were, that was very difficult … because then there were only certain ways that we could get back toward the black."

Looking back, Lindahl wishes there would have been more time for analysis, but she's confident in the decisions that were made based on the information the university had at the time.

Long thinks some people would say way too much was done, but at the same time, others would say not enough was done. Long, however, stands behind the decisions that were made.

"People can always second guess, but I think we made the right decisions given the information we had, given the big challenge in front of us. I think we made the right decisions for the long term for Baker, and I stand behind what we did," she said. "Are there things we could have done better? I would say, sure, because there always are, aren't there? But the basic decisions we made, I stand behind them."

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